Stephen Colbert, on what he’s giving up for Lent

For Lent, I’m going to give up either Newsweek or The Daily Beast. I’m not sure which one the Lord finds more offensive.

In 2007, Stephen famously gave up sweets for Lent, which was a massive deal considering that in that Lenten season was the debut of the Ben and Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream ice cream. Last year, in a Q&A before the show, someone asked Stephen what he gave up for Lent and he said he said “myself”. He said he’s not reading press about himself, the show, or the character, because it can get kind of poisonous to read about yourself all the time. But he needs to know about responses to the character for the show, so he has his writers fill him in.


  1. Hmm. I wonder where his writers go to get “responses to the show.” Hmmmmm.

  2. Seriously? For 2 days I am the only one who commented on this? It feels very lonely being the only comment. Have you all given up commenting for Lent? Someone please at least say hello over here! Yoohoo!

  3. Karenatasha says:

    Hey SW! I’d guess they go everywhere–buzz matters.

    I’m Jewish, so I don’t have to give up anything for Lent. .

    • Me too! But so is Stephen now, for two whole weeks, and we know he’s given up not eating bacon. I’m Reform myself, so before I became a vegetarian I indulged in plenty of pork (which absolutely makes me ill now, but for different reasons).
      Thanks for the “Hey!” And happy Purim!

    • YellowThere says:

      Yo tambien! I’m reform, but I don’t eat any pork lol. HAPPY PURIM! HAMANTASCHEN FOR EVERYONE!!!

  4. Karenatasha says:

    We ate bacon in my house when I was a child, but now I don’t eat pork–although I’m not Kosher. I guess we all pick and choose. Happy Purim to you too.

    *Hmmm Hamentaschen* Something even a vegetarian can indulge in!

    By the way, as a Brazilianist and huge fan of carnaval, I was happy to see Stephen acknowledge Fat Tuesday. I figured he would!

    • Well, I see nothing wrong with eating Hamentaschen for Purim and a King’s Cake for Fat Tuesday (I learned about that from an acquaintance years ago… You have to eat the cake until you find the little baby Jesus figurine inside, at which point I guess you’ve died and gone to heaven). Although I agree with you, Hamentaschen is pretty heavenly too. (For the uninitiated, it’s a delicious sort-of cookie with fruit filling made to resemble the hat of “Hamen,” the bad guy in the story of Queen Esther. Very yummy.) There are definite similarities between Carnaval and Purim, too. Throwing beads for Carnaval, and making noise with groggers (noisemakers) for Purim. I was just replying to Arkadina a few moments ago, and explained that I was part meatball, part matzo ball, so I’ve had the chance to examine many similarities between Catholicism and Judaism. I used to attend Unitarian services many years ago, and enjoyed it. So, I really laughed when Stephen asked during his last episode, “Is this how Unitarians feel all the time?” (Answer — kind of.) In fact, one last thing. I loved a joke that was told by the Unitarian minister at that church. He said, “When you get up to the Pearly Gates, do you know how you can tell who is a Catholic, who is a Protestant, who is Jewish, who is Muslim, and who is Unitarian? The Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims all follow the sign leading to Heaven. The Unitarians follow the sign that reads: ‘Lecture On Heaven This Way, General Admission.'” I always loved that.

      • Karenatasha says:

        “Part meatball, part matzoh ball?” I love it, SW! That’s pretty funny.

        Arkadina, ask away about any Jewish references if Stephen has more. He does have them pretty often, considering, especially if Jon’s involved. (Though in fact, he appears to take Jewish holidays a lot more seriously than Jon.) One of us here will surely be able to answer.

        Actually, the throwing beads thing is pretty much New Orleans Mardi Gras; you won’t see it in Brazil, and I don’t believe you would in Trinidad/Tobago, another hotspot of carnaval. There it’s not about grabbing material things, but dancing and music. Though in Brazil at least you’ll see plenty of unclad bodies. Did love Stephen’s take on the “show us your t&@#s.”

        • Well, not many unclad bodies during Purim, to be sure. But lots of costumes (albeit usually children). Are you in Brazil?

        • Arkadina says:

          Thanks for offering to be my go-to girl for Jewish references, Karenatasha! My Mum always finds Jewish humour really funny, and then laughs even more when I sit there and whimper “But I don’t get it”

          Talking of beads, once I was in a shop in Memphis, on Beale Street, and the proprietor was showing myself and my friend photos he’d taken of girls who had offered to participate in his Boobs For Beads program. He then offered me the opportunity to partake of the experience, which I declined. When we left my friend was really huffy and offended and I said “Yeah, dirty sexist little man, some people, really! etc” and she turned round and said “No, I mean, why didn’t he offer ME beads! Why YOU and not ME??!” Make of that what you will.

        • Karenatasha says:

          SW, no, I’m not in Brazil–but my heart is. I’m in New York,

          Arkadina, your story made me laugh. I understand the schizophrenic reaction: it is possible to find such behavior sexist, but at the same time, we all want to feel attractive–especially to the people we find appealing. While your friend may not have cared about the Mr. Boobs for Beads, it probably made her feel less beautiful anyway,

        • I’m never sure where my replies are going to fall within these threads, so I hope this ends up where it’s supposed to…

          Karenathasa, hello fellow New Yorker! (Though I’m guessing you must know something about Brazil to be a Brazilianist.)

          Arkadina, it sounds like HE was the boob. Tell your friend that next time someone wants to see a pair of boobs, she should ask the fellow, “Why, do you have a friend?”

        • Karenatasha says:

          Ah, SW, another New Yorker! I should have known, of course: you attended Stephen’s play which meant you were likely from around here, and I think you even mentioned something once. (Plus you’re Jewish, so the odds go up accordingly.)

          Yes, I do know something about Brazil, though obviously Viviane (comment far below) will know more! I did my graduate work in cinema studies, and thanks to a wonderful professor, I ended up spening a lot of time analyzing Brazilian film, which led to studying Brazilian dance, which led to playing Brazilian music (I’m a bad percussionist, but I have fun). I’ve been there several times.

          I’m glad to hear that Stephen’s on there. His nation should be global!

  5. Arkadina says:

    I would have liked to have seen Stephen carry on being Jewish for a few shows – even though I understand few of the references, for some reason it amused me. I even called my mother!

    Baptised a Catholic, but then left completely to my own devices from that point on, I evolved quite happily and naturally into an atheist, so I never have to give up anything – although I have been a vegetarian since childhood, also through choice. The only time I’m forced to give anything up is during Ramadan here [no eating or drinking publicly during the day] and that’s only because I get impatient waiting for the sun to go down so Caribou Coffee can open once more!

  6. Well, he will have all of the following week when he gets back to continue his Judaic experience, I think. Maybe he’ll have a bar mitzvah! That would be great!
    I’m curious to know where in the Middle East you are (I’m guessing it’s the Middle East anyway), but if you’d prefer that remain private, I would certainly understand.
    I guess when it comes to spirituality, I’d classify myself as… “?” I think a question mark means I consider myself both healthily skeptical and open minded at the same time. I would give anything to sit down and talk to Stephen about how his spirituality evolved though. It’s such an interesting part of him, I think. And to be honest, I’m envious of it. To have that kind of assured faith and a guidepost for life must be incredibly reassuring (although I think he chooses his guideposts somewhat liberally — but I’m just guessing of course). What I wouldn’t give for that conversation.

    • Arkadina says:

      Hi SW! I’m in one of the Middle East’s more hedonistic outposts – Dubai. Not exactly the most restrictive of Islamic societies, but we have to keep on our toes. Like anywhere, it has things that you just want to wave your little fists angrily at!

      Faith, or the lack of it, is that most subjective of things, I guess. Everybody has their own parameters and moral codes, whether that’s something they’ve been instilled with since birth or a viewpoint they’ve grown to treasure over time, and as long as nobody’s hurting anyone else, those views should be respected. And tolerated.

      I’m just one of life’s skeptics, and throughout my life I’ve happily [as in naturally, rather than intentionally] not automatically believed in ‘things’, whether that was regarding flying saucers, signs from God or even Santa Claus. What a horrible little child I must have been. But I just leave everyone else to it, and if they have faith to sustain them through life, then that’s ok with me. Or if they want to squabble about it over dinner, then I can do that too. It’s all interesting! x

  7. Dubai must be fascinating… I admit, I had an inkling that’s where you were, because I couldn’t think of many Middle Eastern countries where The Colbert Report would be shown. I wonder if you encounter many like-minded thinkers over there that you can find a rapport with. (At least you can here!) Imagine — TCR being shown in Dubai! I love that!
    As to Santa Claus, I grew up in a mixed family of Eastern European Jews and Italian Catholics who intermarried. I like to say I’ve got a family of meat balls and matzo balls. So Santa made his appearance at my Aunt Rose’s house during Chanukmas. (He never gave me the Madame Alexander Doll that I wanted from FAO Shwartz, mind you. So perhaps I didn’t believe strongly enough!) And wait… you’re telling me he doesn’t exist?
    Well, that explains it.
    Thanks for your reply! Sending warm wishes across the oceans from my occasionally hedonistic outpost, New York, to yours in Dubai.

    • “A mixed family of Eastern European Jews and Italian Catholics who intermarried”

      Good grief, SW! That sounds like it has a high entertainment potential!

      Surpisingly, TCR [and TDS] is shown across the whole of the Middle East on the Orbit Showtime network. And mostly shown as is, although every now and then something will cut abruptly and then I have to trot off to my PC to see what I missed – did you see Stephen getting sexy with his hummous at the start of Ramadan last year? Well, they didn’t like that. At all. Ohhhh, but I did!

      Not exactly surrounded by it-getters, but there’s a few TDS watchers and so a couple of the Stephen-aware around. Three of us even had a brief conversation about the rally the day after. And I let out a triumphant whoop when I found one copy of Stephen’s recent GQ cover under a big pile….[dig, dig, dig, it]….of Jeff Bridges and Scarlett Johansson ones. The man reading Muscle&Fitness next to me obviously thought I was bonkers when I started waving it about in delight!

  8. That’s great! Glad you got your copy of GQ. I hope Stephen knows that his loyal fans extend to the far corners of the earth.
    Yes, I saw the sexy finger-licking hummus episode. In fact, just thinking about it right now is turning me into a bowl of hummus myself. And I wouldn’t have minded being a bowl of hummus during that episode either, if you get my not-so-subtle drift.
    Believe it or not, in New York, mixed marriages between Italians and Jews are very common. Lots of great-grandparents came over to Ellis Island at about the same time and lived within blocks of each other on the Lower East Side of New York. But oh, yes, my family makes for excellent comedy. Dark comedy, but comedy nonetheless. If Freud could come back and meet my family, he’d probably just quit and find another profession. Anyway, the Mary of Catholicism and most Jewish mothers are said to have one major thing in common besides a common religious heritage (I’m not sure who said this)… Both Mary and the average Jewish mother thinks their son is God. (In New York that always gets a laugh. I don’t know how that would fly in Dubai. Or elsewhere. But it is repeated on my part with love and deepest respect.) As a Jewish mother myself, with an 8-year old son, I can’t help but agree.

  9. I almost forgot, Arkadina! I wanted to reprint something you said in an earlier post:

    “Everybody has their own parameters and moral codes, whether that’s something they’ve been instilled with since birth or a viewpoint they’ve grown to treasure over time, and as long as nobody’s hurting anyone else, those views should be respected. And tolerated.”

    And I wanted to send my own prayers, however questionable or confused they may be, that every single person in the Middle East, where you live, hears your quote (every Muslim, Jew, Atheist, et al.) and learns to live by those words.

    Very well said.

  10. pkyoubuggin says:

    I have given up Stephen for Lent, but on Sundays you can indulge in it, so that is why I am here right now but not gonna be around as per usual. It’s a sad, bleak, world without Stephen. I’ll see y’all when Lent is over!
    But Lent isn’t so bad; Muslims have it worse with Ramadan, that is some serious stuff. Not eating all day? Ugh.
    Anyways, love to all you! See you when Christos Anestes!

  11. Oh, I almost forgot. I had a religious Stephen question. I think it was during the Grammy’s, but it was definitely during an awards presentation, he was wearing a particular type of red cross on his lapel. Can anyone tell me what that signifies? Does it have a particular meaning?
    Many thanks!

    • lockhart43 says:

      You’re right, it was the Grammy’s. And actually, those pins were worn by many of the Grammy nominees and presenters last year in support of the Red Cross after the earthquake in Haiti.

      • Thanks so much! I’m about to go to sleep here in New York, and I’m trying to consciously limit how much I take in of the difficult news of the world that’s been so prevalent of late, but it’s hard to turn away. So, it’s very warming to think of that image on Stephen’s lapel, that he wore during another difficult time, not so very long ago. (There certainly have been a lot of them.) I didn’t see all of the Grammy’s that night, so I only noticed the pin on Stephen. No surprise there, though. He wears compassion in his eyes, even when it’s not on his lapel.
        Sorry… I get mushier before sleep, I guess.
        Thanks again!

  12. @Arkadina: “Talking of beads, once I was in a shop in Memphis, on Beale Street, and the proprietor was showing myself and my friend photos he’d taken of girls who had offered to participate in his Boobs For Beads program.”

    Lol, awful. I apologize on behalf of my fellow Memphians.

    • No need to apologise, colbaby! I wasn’t remotely offended – only sympathetically mock so when I thought my friend was upset about it. And I’m sure every town has its share of bead-throwers and boob-flashers complementing each other, and so statistically there’s also bound to be some dirty little monkey keeping a photographic record of it all!

      Actually, I have to say, while we’re on the subject I was surprised to hear Stephen use the word ‘tits’ in relation to these things – it sounded unusually crass for him.

      • You know, I was thinking the exact same thing, but I didn’t say anything due to… well, let’s just say due to previous posting history and leave it at that. I do agree though, ‘tits’ is crass for both “Stephen” and Stephen. Hmmm. Perhaps if he had said it in French in the spirit of Mardi Gras?
        He could say anything in French and I’d probably show him whatever he wanted. Although given that I’m in his age range, he might throw me a few beads to stay covered and leave well enough alone…
        Oh, I shouldn’t say that. I take it back. But still. Note to Stephen. Crass words might sound better in French. Or just silently throw a few beads next time and let the t*ts fall where they may.

  13. have a question about Brazilian carnival?HEY I’m here…I’m a brazilian,I know one thing or two LOL carnaval for me mean only 4 days off with no worries,I really don’t celebrate…
    Anyway,I’m a Roman Catholic (not a good one,but still one) and I deecided to give up candy this Lent…I’m suffering.
    Mom said I need rehab or sdomething because I’m too addicted to eat candy.

    • Karenatasha says:

      Bom dia, Viviane! It’s been years since I’ve been to carnaval–sadly, the busiest months in my job are February and March–so I’m feeling saudades. I know Bahia better than Rio–that’s where my heart is.

      But love that a Brazilian is here. How does Stephen air in Brazil? On a regular network?

      • I never had been in Bahia,only in Rio when I was 5.No,we don’t have TCR here,not on tv.We did had TDS Global Edition (not sure if its airing anymore because it was airing Sat. 2 am…)
        I watch trough the site,videoclip by videoclip.
        Stephen has some brazilian fans.I can name at least 3 LOL Di from São Paulo,renan from Rio and me from Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais.
        But I already saw his name in some brazilian websites,so people are awared from him here.
        I have to say mostly is my fault since I do talk a lot about TCR in my Twitter and I’m often sending some links to friends that can understand english.

        • Karenatasha says:

          I’m glad you can watch the show on the site, Viviane!

          I have never been to Belo Horizonte, but my niece’s husband spent some weeks there doing computer work for one of his clients. I’ve read a lot about Minas Gerais, and would like to go there someday.

  14. You know, I’m looking through all of the references to Purim, Hamentaschen, and other references to Jewish-related themes in this Lenten thread, and it occurs to me that we might need a separate “Six Horsemen of the Apopcolypse” just to deal with all of this terminology! See what happens, Stephen, when you have a bris? (Even if it was a vicarious one.)
    And you are not going to believe this, but my previous re Captcha was (I’m not kidding) “tora Exists.” I couldn’t make that up if I tried. And if I had, I would have spelled it correctly. Maybe it’s ghost with a good Jewish sense of humor?
    My current re Captcha is “MacKenzie thietu,” so apparently there’s a St. Patrick’s Day ghost too.

    • Karenatasha says:

      LOL! That’s pretty funny.

      There is plenty of Yiddish/Jewish humor, and I’ve always chalked that up to Jewish writing staff. But we should all remember that he was once almost married to that Jew, Jonathan, before he left him heartbroken under the chuppah…

      • Arkadina says:

        I was stuck in a huge traffic jam the other night, so I whipped out my iPod Touch and randomly selected a TCR episode to watch, and it was the one which featured the story of poor tragic little Jonathan – “His eyes were like two dead birds”. I was the only person enjoying the traffic that night, I can tell you!

        • Either my memory is failing me (possible), or I never saw the “Jonathan” episode! Which one is it? I’d love to see it (or re-see it, if in fact I’ve lost part of my mind)…
          Thanks, as always.

        • Karenatasha says:

          That’s funny, Arkadina!

          Does someone remember the guest on that episode for SW? It was a rather long sequence on how you could sabotage gay marriage. And it began by pretending to be homosexual, getting into a long relationship with a man, and then, after years, dumping him at the altar and souring him on matrimony. But the funny thing, just dropped in, was when he called the partner he was tricking “Jonathan” and then mentioned the rabbi officiating at the wedding. Very smooth, almost easy to miss in the monologue.

          But there was a kicker to it in Stephen’s reaction to the “loss” of Jonathan…

          I’ll try to find the link for you.

        • Thanks, Karenatasha. Now that you’ve described it, I have a very faint inkling that I did see it; however, it must have been during that period of time when I watched the show prior to being hit directly in the heart by the CupidColbert arrow. Hard to believe that time existed, I know. But one day, something just happened. And now look at me!
          So yes, if anyone has the link that would be great!

        • I was just going to reply to tell you that I re-read Karenatasha’s description of the episode and I suddenly remembered it! It came back to me! I definitely need to see it again.
          And just as I’m about to submit this comment, I notice the re Captcha… “elveleat Aging.” Aging re captcha? Aging? Are you suggesting something you ghost-like thing you?!? Everyone else is going to think I’m making this up! Stop it, re Captcha right this minute!
          I think re Captcha is playing tricks on me tonight.
          And thanks again for helping me with the episode!
          Aging, indeed. Ha!

        • I just (re) saw the Jonathan piece! (You were right about the date & Savion Glover.) That. Was. Brilliant. That was so brilliant for so many reasons… just so, so brilliant. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

  15. Arkadina says:

    The “Jonathan” episode was in the first week of last August – 3rd, 4th, 5th, something like that. It might have been the Savion Glover ep, as I was watching that in the same traffic.

    • Thanks, Arkadina. Was it that recently? I didn’t realize this change that came over me happened not all that long ago. I watched the show for years without ever really seeing it! Well, I will certainly check out those dates from last August!
      Thanks so much!

  16. Karenatasha says:

    Found it!!!!

    <a href="; title="How to Ruin Gay Marriage" target="_blank",

  17. Karenatasha says:

    Whoops–I was trying to code it but it wouldn’t work on here. Here it is:

  18. Karenatasha says:
    • Thanks! I appreciate it so much. That was just such an amazing piece. As a matter of fact, if someone had never seen TCR, I might just use that as an example of the kind of brilliant work he does! Loved it!

  19. “He could say anything in French and I’d probably show him whatever he wanted.”

    A little OT, but Stephen definitely got away with a certain very well known four-letter-word one night a couple of years ago because he spoke it in French…I learned it by watching French subtitled movies, heh. But I guess the Viacom execs don’t go to those.

    I’m Catholic and I gave up candy and fries this year. But not ice cream in case I find Stephen’s in the store!

  20. Arkadina says:

    “A certain very well known four-letter-word…”

    Care to tactfully elaborate, Roseha?! I’m sure we’re all adult enough to appreciate a bit of Stephen’s French wordplay!

    • Especially me! Being a proud “Frenchie” citizen of Paris, France AND a French major in college!

  21. It was m—-e, I think he said it sometime in 2009. I got quite a kick out of thinking that the network folks didn’t know what he was saying!

    • Arkadina says:

      I guess the person in charge of the bleep button figures anyone who doesn’t speak a particular language won’t get it anyway, while those that do like being in on the joke!

    • I remember that! And I just re-watched it just to make sure! It’s on the August 20th, 2009 episode when he’s mad at France for banning elephants on beaches when he’s already packed his pachyderms.

  22. Arkadina says:

    Packed his pachyderms? Oh, I must just go and [possibly re]watch that…..excuse me!

  23. haha Hadn’t been to the site for a couple of days, I scrolled down the main page and saw this article had 50 comments! I was like WHAT is going on over there! Lol good work guys, that’s some nice socializing you’ve got going!

    • Arkadina says:

      It’s the NFZ Cultural Familiarisation Project, with sprinkles of Stephen on top!

      • Re “Sprinkles…”
        I’d like some hot fudge Stephen and whipped cream Stephen too, please.

  24. Speaking of cultural familiarisation, I’m sitting here at my desk supposed to be writing a paper about healing rituals of the Kalahari Kung for my anthropology masters program, and instead I keep drifting back here. So if anyone has any tips for overcoming procrastination other than ‘Get the hell off NFZ and get to work!’, I would be grateful.

    reCAPTCHA: aleviti society. No, no, no, reCAPTCHA. I said KUNG society. Not aleviti.

    • Arkadina says:

      Wellll………..NOT talking to the recaptchas would be a start!!

      • Don’t listen to her, reCAPTCHA. She’s just jealous of our relationship.

        reCAPTCHA: very iontrao. Oh reCAPTCHA, I love when you talk giberish.

    • I think this site is definitely worth anthropological study. What would Margaret Mead have said?

  25. Karenatasha says:


    That very well-known French word is also what dancers (especially) and actors use to say “good luck!” to each other.

    Guess they figured it’s not the meaning that matters, but whether the word itself is considered obscene in the US.

  26. I hadn’t looked at since last week; then, today when I did, I noticed that there hasn’t been any Twittering. Is this the answer to what the real Stephen is giving up for Lent? Does he usually stop his electronic communications while on vacation?

    • Yes, they tend to not tweet during the breaks.

      • Ah, thanks for clarifying. That little section of looked so blank and lonely. And I think I must be in some sort of withdrawal state to even be noticing! I am looking forward to Monday!
        Thanks again.

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